Eric Fisher, meteorologist at WBZ in Boston, explored the question of what will happen when the next Thirty-Eight hits New England in a recent special on hurricanes. In researching it, he interviewed me at Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA, where much of their well-tended pine forest was blown down. Here’s a link to the video segment that ran May 21, 2016.
As we near hurricane season this year, more and more people ask me the question about a replay of Thirty-Eight. The last chapter in Thirty-Eight deals extensively with it, but here are some things to consider:
* Thirty-Eight cost the equivalent of $5 billion. A replay today will cost 10 or more times that amount because there are twice as many people living in the vulnerable zone, and people have more wealth than they did at the end of the Great Depression in 1938.
* Our forests are older and thus have taller trees. More acreage is covered by forest than in 1938. In Vermont, 80% of the land is covered in forest as opposed to 45% forest cover in 1938.
* The New Deal of FDR had an activist attitude and jumped in to help New England residents with salvaging blown-down forests. That kind of response is highly unlikely today. Think of the aftermath of Katrina for an image of what might happen when the next big one hits New England.
For a more in-depth discussion, read the book. Order online.